The Issaquah School District has gotten the green light to continue to pursue building a new Issaquah Highlands elementary school to alleviate capacity concerns at Clark and Grand Ridge.
With a unanimous vote, the Issaquah City Council at its Oct. 2 meeting annexed 32.65 acres of land from King County, located just southwest of current development in the Issaquah Highlands. Within that property, council members also rezoned a 6.6-acre parcel nearby Swedish Hospital to allow for construction of a community facility (such as a school).
“We are thrilled,” said Superintendent Ron Thiele. “We believe this is the best location for us to build a much-needed new elementary, and our partnership with the city has been very positive.”
With suitable land both scarce and highly sought after, city and district leaders have been working together for months to tackle challenges around building and siting new schools within Issaquah. This has included developing new “compact school” codes that outline re-envisioned school buildings with smaller footprints. City and district staff also identified the parcel of land nearby Swedish in the Issaquah Highlands as the preferred location for a new elementary school.
Although this rezoning action does not guarantee construction of a new Issaquah Highlands elementary, it’s the critical first step needed to continue the multifaceted process. Next, the district and city will work together to better define the potential school-campus borders, which will likely include incorporating a small amount of existing city land into the annexed parcel; to negotiate a sale of the land from city to district; complete extensive environmental and land-use studies and to permit the building if the preceding steps go smoothly. The district will also do its typical due diligence with extensive environmental and land-use studies before moving forward.
Funding for the new elementary school, including property acquisition, is provided by the 2016 bond measure. The district hopes to open the campus by fall 2020 to alleviate overcrowding at Clark and Grand Ridge elementaries. While no boundaries have been drawn yet, the new school is expected to serve all current Clark students who live in the Issaquah Highlands and Overdale Park areas as well as hundreds of current Grand Ridge students.
The 2016 bond measure also included funding for additions and modernizations to existing school buildings throughout the district as well as a new high school, middle school, and elementary.